There are a lot of options when it comes to handmade soaps. A lot of options I certainly was not aware of when we started making them ourselves. First the ingredients that you use can vary widely. I see a lot of soaps out there that use some of the more inexpensive oils or butters that may not be the best for your skin. Which is fine if you just want to make a quick buck and throw something out there that's handmade. Sometimes these soaps are a little easier to work with which allows some makers to create the truly beautiful and intricately designed soaps you see out there. There is nothing wrong with that and there are some true artists that make handmade soaps like this. Some of the things they can create just blow my mind after working with soaps for a while and understanding how difficult it can be. I can definitely appreciate their artistry but we prefer to focus on the benefits it can have for your skin. Plus we have the added difficulty of working with goat milk soap. True handmade goat milk soap does not always look as "pretty" as none goat milk soap or even melt and pour goat milk soap (we will discuss this in a minute). The colors do not turn out as bright and can sometimes completely change as the soap cures. This makes for a lot of trial and error at times.
Secondly, there is the decision of how you want to make your soap. The big three are hot process, cold process, and melt & pour. I will simply explain each one and explain why we chose cold process.
In hot process soap making you basically cooking all of the ingredients together in one pot. This makes working with the finished soap a little more difficult because it comes out thicker and these are normally the soaps you see that turn out looking a little rough around the edges. The main benefit to hot process is you have a finished product a couple of days after it's made. This makes it a lot more convenient for the soap maker.
Next we have cold process soap. This is the way we make all of our soaps. This process involves mixing your oils/butters and heating them to around 100 degrees. Then you mix your lye and liquid together separately and get it to around the same temp. Then mix both and blend together until it starts to thicken. Mixing in your colors and fragrances last. Finally pouring this into your molds and allowing it to set for a couple of days before getting it out and cutting it. This allows the saponification (basically heating and becoming a soap) to occur much more slowly than with hot process and in our opinion creates a better soap. It is also easier to work with than hot process as far as designs and colors go. However, it takes it at least 4 weeks to cure and be ready to sell. More convenient for the actual person using the soap.
Lastly you have melt and pour or cheater soap as I like to call it. This is basically buying a stock block of soap someone else has made, melting it down, adding your colors and fragrances, and then pouring it into your molds and allowing it to harden again. Instant gratification. Problem is, I don't truly consider these to be handmade soaps but many pass them off as such. These are a lot of the intricate soaps you see with the beautiful colors and crazy designs (not all though). For me, truly being handmade means you actually make the soap, not just add a scent and some colors. I see a lot of soaps like this out there that are not designer but are being passed off as handmade. Problem you run into with those is that the person selling it to you really has no control over the ingredients and may not even always truly know what is in them. This is another reason we make our soap from start to finish. We know what is in it, how much is in it, and work to make the best possible product for your skin. Not just the easiest soap to produce and make a buck.
So as you can see there is more to soap making that a lot of people think. These is also more to picking out the right handmade soaps. I can tell you from my own personal experience there is a huge difference between our soaps and some of the other handmade soaps out there. We truly mean it when we say our soaps are like no udder.